Tuesday, January 23, 2007

A Basic Sequence of Events: Emergences of the Church... then the State... then Love, in an Initially Pragmatic Institution

Date Unknown- The institution originates with pragmatic purposes...
The dates of the first "marriages" are uncertain, and it was not called "marriage" from the very beginning; but the institution emerged in ancient societies as a means of preserving our species in a secure system for reproduction, carrying on lineages, and determining property rights.

Date Unknown- Marriages are arranged between father and gift-bearing groom; no vows, love or courtship involved
The Old Testament of the Bible indicates that a prospective husband would bring gifts to win the approval of the father of the girl-of-choice before he asked to have her as a bride. To show the father's approval, the he would transfer her to the groom in public, the joined families would have a meal together, and the new husband would then take his bride home. At this point, there are no vows involved and not even a preacher present.

17 B.C.-476 A.D. - Roman Empire begins legalization and official recordings
During the Roman Empire, wealthy Romans wished to distinguish themselves and their marital unions from the lower classes and their common law marriages; so they had their unions legalized via signed documents listing property rights, beginning the legalization and official recording of marital unions that is required today.

17 B.C.-476 A.D. Romans originate the engagement ring, symbolizing the idea that marriage is foreverAllegedly, the ring's continuing circularity represents eternity, indicating the wearer to be in a neverending union.

mid-400s A.D. - Christian church takes interest in co-opting marriage, ending marriage as strictly a civil union
Christians begin having their ceremonies conducted by ministers.

527-565 A.D. - Marriages are regulated--people are no longer married simply by saying they are
The contitutions of the Roman emperors are compiled into the Justinian Code, regulating daily life, including marriage. Prior to this, marriage had simply been a verbal promise, called a "verbum," between the two to engage in such.

800s - Even more church involvement, at this point, with other religions also including blessings and prayers in the ceremony.
1100s - priests begin to formally require that an agreement be made in their presence, now defining marriage as sacremental.

1100s - Meanwhile, the concept of romance in courtship emerges with the troubadours, traveling musicians of the European High Middle Ages.

1200s - Churches blessed English upper class weddings, making them religious events, but without a legal commitment.

1300s - Only now does the term marriage evolve from the French term "marier," meaning "to marry."

1500s - Protestant Reformation designates the record-keeping and rule-setting of marriages to the state.

1563 - Council of Trent officially decrees that Catholic marriages were to be held with a priest and at least two witnesses. Prior to this, it had been common for marriages to take place with neither witnesses or formal ceremonies. At this point, love is still irrelevent to the institution, which was seen primarily as having the purpose of ensuring procreation, while saving men and women from the religious sin of fornification by making marriage a required prerequisite for socially-condoned sex.

Late 1500s - Colonial North America passed laws allowing an option between religious marriages and state-regulated civil marriages.
For the most part, they carried on European traditions, but some Colonists wanted only a civil union and not a religious one, and so passed laws allowing such. To this day, a choice between civil and religious marriages is allowed in Europe and America.

1600s - Now the state is heavily involved in most Protestant European countries' marriages

1660 - Love becomes a factor.
With the Puritans, three tendencies emerged regarding the institution of marriage:

1) love became a factor
2) marriage became commonplace
3) marriage was extremely committed

1700s - By now, weddings are widely considered as religious events throughout all European countries.
And there we have it... now religion, the law, AND love are all heavily intermingled within the originally solely civil and pragmatic institution....

And thus, a correction:
It seems, actually, that last comes love...






1 comment:

Sybil said...

Keep up the good work.